The very day Jamar Clark was gunned down in north Minneapolis by police, about 20 Black Lives Matter activists crowded into the vestibule of the Fourth Precinct police station. An overnight sit-in swelled into a campsite, and four days later the 1900 block of Plymouth Avenue North had become a shanty town replete with fire pits, port-o-johns, hot food, and donations of blankets and fresh socks.
Protesters vowed to stay until three demands were met: a federal investigation, release of video footage, and termination of the two officers involved.
So far, they’ve only gotten one of those things. Mayor Betsy Hodges asked for and received the U.S. Department of Justice’s pledge to investigate what happened the night of Clark’s death. Cops claim Clark reached for an officer’s gun while interfering with paramedics trying to treat a domestic assault victim. A number of witnesses claim he had been lying on the ground, bound with handcuffs, when a cop shot him in the head for no apparent reason.
On Wednesday, Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau decided that enough was enough, and ordered the protesters’ eviction. They were blocking off the entrance and preventing citizens from reporting crimes, said Sgt. Steve Mosey.
Infuriated, protesters accused Hodges of conspiring with the police, luring leaders of BLM into a meeting just as cops moved in. Hodges' office denies the claim — the mayor met with a handful of BLM organizers and members of the Clark family in the morning, while the clearing of the vestibule began at about 2 p.m.
As protesters screamed bloody murder and “Fuck the police,” cops in riot gear attempted to tear down their tents, leading to a tense exchange on the lawn.
At one point James Hill, Clark’s father, confronted an officer, saying, “They already killed my son, what can they do to me?” to which the cop laughed and responded, “I appreciate you, I appreciate you.”
For hours the crowd outside the station grew as protesters called for reinforcements and refreshments. Police guarding the door, watching from the roof and surrounding streets, ignored protesters taunting them to shoot, but did engage in sporadic debates about justice and due process. Protesters linked arms and encircled the building. Officers changed shifts.
As night fell, protesters claimed to have been maced and shot with rubber bullets. Minneapolis police confirmed they did fire a marking round at a man who had been throwing rocks.